Mother Nature’s hair – discover the varieties of ornamental grasses

Grasses grow everywhere in the world: from prairies to swamps and from Alpine meadows to coastal zones. This is why grass is sometimes called ‘Mother Nature’s hair’. A selection of the most beautiful varieties of ornamental grasses with elegant narrow leaves and swaying plumes is available for use in the garden. Their delicate flowering stems catch every ray of sunshine and countless raindrops to give a garden an enchanting dreamy look.

Varieties of ornamental grasses: Miscanthus, Molinia and Festuca Varieties of ornamental grasses: Miscanthus, Molinia and Festuca Varieties of ornamental grasses: Miscanthus, Molinia and Festuca

Varieties of ornamental grasses for every spot

Ornamental grasses are available in so many varieties that there is always a perfect one for every situation. You can find ornamental grasses for dry soil or for damp conditions, for full sun or for shade – all of them perennial plants. Most of them turn brown during the winter, but some ornamental grasses are evergreen. One example is the sedge (Carex). If you have plenty of space, you might have room for a big clump of Miscanthus sinensis (Zebra Grass) to serve as a focal point. This massive ornamental grass is also ideal for use as visual screening. For a small spot, there are plenty of ornamental grasses with a compact habit that will even thrive in a pot on the patio. One of these is the Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca) and it grows only 15-25 cm tall.

Did you know that…you shouldn’t confuse ornamental grasses with bamboo? A bamboo is actually an evergreen shrub, while an ornamental grass is a perennial that dies back above the ground in the autumn and quickly produces fresh green blades in the spring.

The art of combining

The overhanging leaves and graceful plumes of varieties of ornamental grasses will look even more stunning when combined with other plants. When creating these compositions, be sure to consider such factors as the growth habit of the ornamental grass, the colour of its leaves and its height. Then look for suitable companion plants. Varieties that flower earlier than the grasses or simultaneously will be most suitable. Summer-flowering perennials covered with blooms – the spikes produced by the Sage (Salvia) are a good example – will provide a fantastic contrast in shape with a grass like the Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra). In the autumn, the purple Michaelmas Daisy will look stunning next to the reddish-brown Red Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’). Border plants that provide winter silhouettes will also look splendid against ornamental grasses; this combination will be an eye-catcher until far into the winter. Try Stonecrop (Sedum) next to Fountain Grass (Pennisetum) or Giant Hyssop (Agastache) as a companion for Reed Grass (Calamagrostis).

Did you know that…a grouping of pots full of ornamental grasses will embellish the patio or roof garden from early summer until late winter? A good choice for this would be Mexican Feathergrass (Stipa tenuifolia) – so finely textured that it looks like human hair. 

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